Benjamin Reifel Biography

Benjamin Reifel

Sioux activist and U.S. representative from South Dakota
Born: September 19, 1906
Birthplace: Rosebud Reservation, Parmelee, South Dakota

The first Sioux to serve in Congress, Ben Reifel was the son of a Lakota Sioux mother. His Indian name was Lone Feather. Reifel studied agriculture at South Dakota State College and in 1933 began his long career with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, where his fluency in Lakota proved a great asset. Reifel saw four and a half years of active duty in World War II and later earned a doctorate in public administration from Harvard University. He retired from the BIA in 1960 to launch what would be a successful run for Congress; he served five terms as U.S. representative (Republican) from South Dakota.

Died: January 2, 1990